A lot of people are trying to climb the career ladder, get that next promotion, and come up with the next big thing. To get there, they often try to imitate the habits of successful people rather than creating their own path.


At our LeadUp event in Melbourne, Jo Begbie, Director of Performance and Development at Victoria Police, talked about her very own unconventional career path. She explained why creating your own path in life is really the only right way to go and how her three success principles can help you find it!

Before sharing her 3 success principles, Jo took everyone on a little journey back to where her career started.


Starting Out

Jo was studying at Deakin University when she met a farmer; a man who would very quickly change her career aspirations. This led to her getting married and building her own farming venture in Hay.

However, she was not exactly in her element. Starting a business, taking on a new occupation without any experience (or family or friends) in the area left her wondering what to do.

Whilst on the business front everything continued on successfully, things behind the scenes were not as peachy. When Jo’s husband was diagnosed with depression, Jo learned that a support network, perseverance, and self-awareness can make all the difference. Indeed, she teaches us:


“Make sure you surround yourself with family and friends, people who can help prop you up during life’s struggles and career challenges!”


Unknown Territories

A few years later, Jo left the farming industry and found herself applying for new jobs. But it was no walk in the park. No one really appreciated her skills and experience, causing her to face rejection time and time again.

She then came across the role of Executive Officer at Deakin University’s School of Law. After two years in the role, Jo decided to apply for Business and Infrastructure Manager of the faculty.

Even though the role was three levels above her position, she decided to apply. After all, she thought,


“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”


And voila! It was hers. Towards the end of her contract, Jo fell pregnant, and therefore declined the opportunity to apply for another senior role in the university. In 2013, she enrolled in a part-time MBA, to progress up the corporate ladder and be truly competitive in the market.


Branching Out

After taking this time to reassess her professional and personal development, in 2014, she saw a role with Victoria Police as Assistant Director in the Risk Mitigation Division, Professional Standards Command. If she could be a farmer and a School Executive Officer, why not try her hand as a Risk Professional?

So, she applied. Sure enough, she was working for Victoria Police by mid-2014. At the time, she was the only female on the PSC Leadership Team, and the youngest by around 20 years.

She was not afraid to challenge the status quo and was able to communicate and navigate the internal politics successfully by standing out from the rest.


New Horizons

This role then opened the door to a new opportunity: developing a programme dedicated to addressing sexual harassment, sex discrimination and predatory behaviour in the workplace.

In the same year, Jo also completed her MBA. With the support of an amazing new Career Coach, she was then ready to take on the role of Director of HR Services (and later, Performance and Development) at Victoria Police.


Jo’s Three Success Principles

Reflecting on her journey, Jo identifies 3 key lessons:

1. Build a support network

“Building a support network is one of my cornerstone principles, not only in life but work. Family, friends, colleagues (or the collective) have each supported me through my ups and downs, commiserated with me during my failures and celebrated my milestone achievements!”


2. Invest in yourself.

“At a couple of key junctures in my career, I’ve chosen to invest in myself…I recognise that I’m on a constant learning curve and that by satisfying my curiosity, I maintain my focus and my achievements are without limit.”


3. Ask for what you really want.

“If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. Ask for what you really want! Keep following through, even if you stumble at the hurdles.”


Taking the Risk

Remember that paths are not always linear.

Whether it’s up and down or left and right, the direction of your career path may not be something that you anticipate or plan to a tee. But that’s what makes it fun, exciting, and challenging!


How might these principles help you shape your own career?


About the Author:

Manon is Polyglot Group's Global Head of Marketing. Referred to a marketing "chameleon", Manon's superpower comes from her ability to jump from one project & specialty to another with ease. Not only is Manon deeply passionate about her work, she is also a diversity, empathy & equality advocate.